|6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:6–11 (ESV)
To say, “final words, thoughts, and lines are important” is an understatement. This goes for just about any genre of communication. The closing scene of a movie, lines in a book, or lyrics in a song can be captivating. As you’re following along, you can get lost in the narrative. But as the end draws near, it can prompt a level of anticipation and curiosity. How will it end? What will the tone be as it comes to a close? Will it fade out softly, end in a cliff hanger, or will everything be resolved in a predictable climactic resolution?
Good writing should always draw the reader in. As we’ve read and studied 1 Peter, it’s possible to lose sight of the fact that we are reading a real letter written to real people. The circumstances being addressed are neither from a movie nor a mere book. We are reading God’s holy word written by human authors as inspired by the Holy Spirit. As Pastor Scott Hamilton reminded us when he was here, these letters are like survival manuals for the church. How accurate does that statement feel in light of our Forged series? Indeed, the Apostle Peter is teaching us how to survive through hardship and trial. He taught us who we are, whose we are, what we are going through, how to get through it, and where we’re headed in the end.
And now this week, like any great communicator would, he has gained our full attention to receive his final words of instruction. So, the anticipation builds. How will he end such a crucial letter? Well, here is what we know… it won’t end softly. He’s already spoiled any chance of a cliff hanger by declaring the assurance of Jesus’ return. So that leaves us with that last option, a triumphant resolution. Go ahead and read it for yourself. Peter ends this survival guide with his final instructions for finishing well in the midst of our forging. The ending reminds me of a song that we’ve been singing recently. It ends with, “I know how the story ends, we will be with you again.” What a way to end a song. What a what a way to end a letter.
In honor of bringing this series to a close, we have an incredibly special service planned. As a hint I’ll just say, imagine being in the early church when this letter was first read. Imagine sitting there captivated, taking it all in with the anticipation of these final words of instruction. Come this Sunday and experience what it must have been like.
Love you, church!